Easy ways to incorporate physical activity into your child’s outdoor play

Exercise can help children develop important physical, cognitive, communication and social skills. Summer is the perfect time to go outside to excercise.

Outside play is great for children and fun too! Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

Outside play is great for children and fun too! Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

Exercise can help children develop important physical, cognitive, communication and social skills. In addition, experts say we should be doing 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day as regular exercise can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of exercise you need, you can do it in several 10 minute sessions. Remember, you should always be able to talk while you are exercising or you may be pushing it too hard. 

Warm weather presents an excellent opportunity for the whole family to get some exercise in outdoors. In addition, the Michigan Early Childhood Standards of Quality Prekindergarten indicate that a quality program “capitalizes on the opportunity the outdoor environment presents for learning about and from the natural world.”

When playing outside with children, safety should always be considered first. Always scope the play area for any potential hazards. Do not take them out in extreme hot or cold conditions and don’t forget the sunscreen. Have them dress appropriately in play clothes. Be on the look-out for any bug bites or bee stings and use first-aid if this does occur.

Looking for great physical activities that can be used outdoors and assist with gross motor development? Here are some ideas:

  • Bring out several size balls to bat, kick or throw around. Children will have a great time with how the different sizes perform differently.
  • Bring out buckets of bubble solution and have children run around while making different size bubbles.
  • Use scarfs, ribbons or streamers (from the dollar store) to run or dance with to music.
  • A child favorite is running through sprinklers to cool off.

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to remember to make it a family affair by getting in on the play and most of all, have fun!

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